WORLD CUP: Players to watch

Nelson Haedo Valdez (Paraguay)

Almost every South American who chooses a career in football dreams of the same things: enjoying success with local team, moving to one of their country’s top clubs and winning titles before seeking financial security in Europe. In this latter category is Nelson Haedo Valdez, the Paraguay striker who says we can expect great things from his side at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Born on November 28, 1983, Haedo Valdez was terrorising defences in his homeland with amateur outfit Atletico Tembetary until as recently as 2001. His first major tournament with Paraguay came in November 2003 after he was called into teh squad for the World Youth Championship.

Justo Villar (Paraguay)

When as a child he watched his father keep goal for the local amateur side, Justo Villar never imagined that one day he would do so for his national team. Yet at just 26, Paraguay’s young keeper has stepped into the shoes of the legendary José Luis Chilavert and is making a name for himself on the South American stage.

Ever since Chilavert announced his retirement, there has been intense debate as to who should replace him in the Paraguayan goal. Fortunately for the Albirrojo, the answer came in the form of formidable shot-stopper Justo Villar. Being considered as Chil-avert’s heir apparent clearly means a lot to Villar.